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Part 2: Alibaba Unofficial Guide, Contacting and Negotiating with Suppliers

In this article I’ll discuss how to contact Suppliers on Alibaba, get the lowest MOQs, and safely request a sample order. I’ll assume that as discussed in Part 1 of this guide you have narrowed down your selection to 5 potential Suppliers.

Contacting Suppliers on Alibaba: The Dating Game

Possibly the biggest mistake I see new importers make when contacting Chinese Suppliers, especially on Alibaba, is to believe every Chinese Supplier is dying to do business with them. This isn’t always true.

Alibaba supplier contact form

Approach initial communication with Suppliers like you would internet dating

The truth is, for a lot of Chinese Suppliers, Alibaba is a lot like using an internet dating website. A Supplier with a great profile page and selling high demand products, a.k.a. the proverbial hot girl, may get dozens or hundreds of inquiries a day. And just like internet dating, not all of these inquiries lead to dates, or in our case, orders. Therefore, Chinese Suppliers are selective in who they respond to and even more selective in who they give their best prices to. Therefore, you have to come across as a ‘good catch’. What are some things Chinese Suppliers look for?

  • Do you know exactly what products you’re looking for?  Or are you fishing for an entire catalog and price list?
  • Are you clear, concise, and to the point? Or does your Supplier have to put a lot of thought into answering your email, which is especially hard for a non-native English speaker?
  • What country are you from? Certain countries are more desirable for a Supplier to do business in such as countries the Supplier doesn’t currently do business in. Your Supplier can see what country you are emailing from via Alibaba.
  • Are you a big buyer with brick and mortar stores?

Your First Email

Therefore, I recommend importers’ first contact to be straight forward and to the point, such as:

Dear Shanghai Saddlery Co., Ltd.,

I am from Chinese Importing Products Inc. We are based in Vancouver, Canada and we are a retailer/wholesaler of Horse Saddles. We are very interested in the Horse Saddles your company offers.

Can you please tell me the price on your Adjustable Leather English Horse Saddles, Mode SA138, as shown here: http://shanghaisaddlery.en.alibaba.com/product/736255569-214759027/adjustable_gullet_english_leather_saddle.html

Sincerely,
David Bryant

 Our goal is just to get a response. I avoid mentioning MOQs which may scare off a Supplier. It’s easy for a Supplier to simply ignore an initial email. But once a Supplier has actually responded to you, it’s difficult to ignore future emails.

Doing Price Anaylsis

Unless you know your product extremely well and the cost to manufacture it (VERY few people know this) your absolute only way to know the fair price of your product is to receive competing offers which is why we’ve contacted several Suppliers.

You should at this point start to receive prices from your Suppliers. If they ask you how much you will be importing let them know your ideal annual order amount (be an optimist but don’t promise the moon) rather than individual order amount.

Supplier Analysis

Tabulate the prices of at least five Suppliers into a spreadsheet

The chances are you will receive very comparable prices, i.e. ranging from $28.40-$36.40. Chinese Suppliers are very good at knowing how much their competitors are charging and therefore will price themselves competitively, especially if they want to do business with you. Record each Supplier’s price, MOQ, and shipment terms either in a spreadsheet like here or other simple word processing document. It might seem trivial, but it forces you to compare each Supplier equally.

Beware of Suppliers that are very low comparable to others. Normally there is a catch. Typical catches include:

  • Shipment terms are EXW opposed to FOB (much more expensive)
  • The material is of a much lower quality, i.e. 150 denier fabric instead of 600 denier Fabric
  • They only accept extremely large orders

Once you are comparing apples to apples, i.e. you know each Supplier is quoting a product constructed of similar materials and with similar shipment terms, then ask the other Suppliers if they can match the price of the lowest offer. There’s a temptation to lie and say “Your competitor Ningbo Saddles offered me these saddles for $24” when in fact they offered them to you for $34. Your Supplier will smell you out and you’ll lose credibility.

At this point you will likely have 2-3 Suppliers with comparable prices and comparable products. At this point, you want to find a Supplier that can accommodate your smaller order size.

Dealing with MOQs

MOQ is one of the most important issues you’re going to face when first dealing with Suppliers. I’ll give you some general tips here on how to get low MOQs and I go into even more detail in my Importing Course. Every Supplier wants you to order like Walmart but at the same time, you don’t want to import 50 Horse Saddles if you’ve never sold one and risk getting stuck with a bedroom full of unsellable inventory.

You have to ask yourself, why does you Supplier have a MOQ?

  • They mass produce the product, and keep stock of it, but it’s not worth their expense to ship a small number of products
  • They only produce the product on demand therefore they need a big enough order to warrant a production run

If an item is customized or a very niche product that your Supplier does not keep stock of, then MOQs are tricky. It’s very difficult to negotiate as quite simply your Supplier will lose money (not just time) for small orders.

injection mould

If your product requires any custom moulds or other customization, MOQs are much less flexible than if you’re importing an off-the-shelf product

If you’re dealing with a popular product and/or dealing with a trading company, the chances are their MOQ falls into the first category. In these cases, small orders are just not worth their time.  Maybe they can sell me 10 horse saddles and still make $100 profit, but they have higher priorities.

In these cases, all you need to do is decrease their cost of time. Assume you have narrowed down your selection process to 1 or 2 Suppliers and both insist their MOQ is 50 units but you only want 10 units. The following email will get your Supplier to accept your order more often than not:

Dear Shanghai Saddlery Co., Ltd.,

I understand your MOQ requirements but we would like to purchase 10 saddles initially to introduce to our customers and proceed with a larger shipment on the next order.

If you can understand our needs, please see the attached PO for 1o units of SA138. Please confirm with a copy of your invoice which includes FedEx shipping charges to Vancouver, Canada. Also please include your banking information and I will wire 100% payment to you tomorrow. 

Thank you and I look forward to working with you on many future orders,

David Bryant

Very few Suppliers can say no to having money wired to them in full.Note that when you do this strategy, you have very little room for negotiation. The second you start to try to negotiate price, payment terms, etc. you’re imposing a money cost and time cost on your Supplier.

If you have access to a tool like Import Genius, you can get a good feel for how amicable your Supplier is going to be to smaller orders by seeing the Supplier’s export history.

We can see from Import Genius that Shanghai Saddlery company has done an order in the past for just 41 units.

We can see from Import Genius that Shanghai Saddlery company has done an order in the past for just 41 units.

For example, by searching for Shanghai Saddlery company, we can see that in the past, they did an order to Blocker Ranch Inc. for just 41 units. This is a good indication they would likely accept an order from us for around 41 units (or much less). Contrast this to the search we did in Part 1 for Jackson Carpet (Qingdao) who we could see was selling multiple containers to Costco each year.

Your First Sample Trial Order

Many books and websites say that you should always order a single sample from a Supplier and inspect it for quality et al. There’s some problems with doing it this way:

  • Your first sample is guaranteed to be of good quality. i.e. you will get the “Golden Sample”
  • The freight costs to get a single sample is outrageously high
  • One sample gives you no chance to try and sell the item on eBay, Amazon, etc.

Therefore, I always recommend people to order at least 10 of an item if possible at first. At the very least, this gives you a chance to sell the items on eBay or Amazon. If you import one sample and sell it the very first day on Amazon you may have simply lucked out. Selling ten is a far better sample size.

golden sample

Your first sample will normally be the best quality product you will receive.

Making Your First Order: How to Pay For It

Once you’ve picked a Supplier and they’ve agreed to send your desired quantity you’re ready to pay for and ship your order.

Keep in mind that some Suppliers may not charge you for the cost of one sample but they will almost certainly get you to pay the cost of freight. They will almost certainly charge you for any samples beyond 1 and freight. Do not try to negotiate this- it makes you look really small.

Most Suppliers will send you something called a pro-forma invoice which is just a fancy word for an invoice. Most Suppliers prefer wire transfer but some will accept PayPal if you pay their fees (anywhere from 2.5-4%). Remember, everything in China is in USD as the Yuan is pegged to the Dollar.

If you’ve never done an overseas wire transfer, take the banking information into your bank and they will be happy to help you make the transfer, normally for $20-40. Paying via Wire Transfer gives some very revealing information about your Supplier, mostly in regards to whoever the beneficiary is. If the beneficiary is the company name that you’re familiar with, i.e. “Shanghai Saddlery Co. Ltd.” then everything is hunky dorey.  If the beneficiary is a personal name, i.e. “Deng Xiaoping” then you know you’re most likely dealing with a very small middle man. Fraud is also a lot more prevalent if going to a personal name (although still very rare) so make sure there’s no other red flags. If you’re being asked to send money to an African bank, run.

Making Your First Order: How to Ship It

If this is your first time ordering from China (or even if you’re experienced) it’s often best just to ask your Supplier to arrange for shipping and to add the charges to the invoice. If everything is being shipped via air, then there’s really no surprises. Simply tell your Supplier your address. They will likely ship it via DHL, FedEx, or UPS. The chances are they will also declare the products to be of very low value (whether you asked them to or not) so you will pay very little duty, but expect to pay some duty.

If your shipment is so large it needs to be shipped via sea, read the article on Sea Freight here.

Keep in mind, shipping air from China is expensive. To ship 20 lbs is going to cost you no less than $100 and may exceed $300. Will Williams from Freighteo gives some great advice on shipping items via air here.

Special Requests? Forget It (on this order)

If you have any special requests, like certain packaging requirements, forget it on this order. Wait until you’ve received a few samples, and then give feedback accordingly. Again, you’re trying to come across as a maintenance free Buyer, albeit a small one.

Receiving and Reviewing Your Shipment

If you’ve had your order shipped via air, then it should arrive in anywhere from 3-10 business days. If via sea, this will be more like 30-45 days. When your shipment arrives, here are some things to inspect, which may be talking points for future orders:

  • Quality. Is the product the quality you expect? Use and abuse the product for a bit of time. Does it hold up how it should? If not, remember that you’ve likely received their best quality samples and quality is only expected to be the same or decrease on future orders.
  • Packaging: Is the packaging sufficient to ship to your customer? Or was everything lumped into one box and you need to purchase all new shipping boxes? (if so, request your items to be boxed on future orders)
  • Instructions. Did it come with instructions (if applicable)? If not, does your supplier have instructions? If not, you should start creating or borrowing some and include them with your product.
  • Made in China? Does your item have “Made in China” marked somewhere on the box? If not, you should request this on the next order

Once you’ve received your order, you should email your Supplier to let them know that you received everything but you have not had a chance to review the products yet and let them know that you will contact them shortly to discuss things and to hopefully make another order.  There’s no rush to do the above- just like in dating, playing hard to get sometimes makes the person want you even more :)

Making Future Orders

After 2 or 3 weeks of having your product listed on various channels, you should have hopefully received at least a couple of sales and you’ll be prepared to make a larger order. If you’re prepared to make an order big enough to meet your Supplier’s MOQ, great. If not, your Supplier will now likely be willing to accept any order 25-50% of their stated MOQ. The temptation of an order from a real, serious Buyer, no matter what size, is too strong for most Suppliers to resist.

At this point, you can also start negotiating with your Supplier. Getting a 5-20% cost concession should be reasonable, assuming your Supplier was competitive with the other Suppliers you received price quotes from. Start at a 10-20%. Keep in mind that asking for a shipping concession is often more appetizing for your Supplier than asking for a cost concession. For example, if you are ordering $3000 worth of saddles that will cost $300 in sea freight, it is better to ask for your Supplier to pay for the cost of freight rather than ask for a 10% discount.

EcomCrew Course

Interested in creating your own million dollar brand importing products from China? Mike and Dave will show you exactly how you can do it to with their Importing Kick @#$ Products from China Course. Read more about the course.

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38 Comments

  • Reply
    Adriana
    August 15, 2015 at 1:38 am

    Great blog and a lot of useful information.

    How do you handle the case where the supplier cannot give you more than 1 sample ?

    Looking forward for you next post

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      August 15, 2015 at 7:58 am

      Hi,

      Are you asking for paid samples or free samples? In the rare cases they refuse to give more than 1 paid sample, just about the only thing you can do is to import the 1 sample and then do a larger order with their MOQ or find another Supplier who will be more accommodating (normally a trading company).

      • Reply
        Adriana
        August 15, 2015 at 4:55 pm

        Hi

        I am asking for 1 paid sample which they quoted it in RMB at a price 5 times bigger than an order of 1000 MOQ.

        Thanks

        • Reply
          David Bryant
          August 17, 2015 at 5:25 am

          Hi,

          So they said, for example, 1 sample is $500 or if you order 1000 pieces, it is $100 each? Am I correct to assume that it is a higher ticket item? ($100+?)

          Some suppliers have been known to do this in cases where consumers may just want to buy a one-off item for personal use and have no legitimate commercial interest in the product. You can ask to have the sample cost paid back on your order over 1000 pieces, which I’m sure they’ll oblige to. You’re definitely going to pay more for 1 piece than 1000 pieces, although 5x seems as a little high (I’ve personally paid around 2.5x more for one sample though)

  • Reply
    Ivan
    September 6, 2015 at 1:17 am

    Thanks David, this info is golden!

  • Reply
    Dante
    October 7, 2015 at 12:10 am

    Hi i had read many email template and i try to come up with my own version of template which combine all the things that i read. Would you kindly tell me what need to fix or remove from these. because i dont want to appear un professional toward the supplier.

    Hello,

    My name is _ from _ We are in the process of adding a _ to our product line and your product seems to be what we are looking for.

    I have a few questions.

    1. Do you offer samples and how long to receive 5 – 10 samples to Shenzen?
    2. Can we pay using Paypal and do you accept Escrow payments?
    3. Can we make a minor change to the products like the color. shape and size?
    4. Can we brand with our logo?
    5. Can you do custom packaging?
    6. What is the cost of 500 – 1000 unit including shipping by DHL Air Express to United States?
    7. How long for manufacturing once we place order?
    8. Do you do label print and are you able to put the label and logo on the packaging?
    9. Can we order 500 units for the first order?

    Our first order of 500 unit will be a small test order and in the future will be ordering between 1,000 to 5,000 units. We are hoping the samples are up to our customer’s
    expectations and quality standards. If we can begin ordering at least a few thousand per month minimum.

    We are looking forward to hearing from you soon.
    Thank You!

    Name
    Company

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      October 10, 2015 at 2:10 pm

      Hi Dante,

      These are a lot of good questions to ask, but not in your first email. Your first email should be short and sweet, “I’m interested in this product, can you give me more details including price and MOQ”. Suppliers can get dozens of emails a day and they’re lucky if 1 of those emails results in a sale. Subsequently, they can’t spend an hour answering each email, so they may ignore a long email like this (which they rightly assume is a form email that you’re probably sending to a lot of Suppliers). Also, keep in mind, the Chinese HATE to say no. Your answer to many of these questions will almost certainly be ‘yes’ which doesn’t mean anything (“Sure, you can change the shape and size, if you order 100,000 units”). IMO, you need to get really specific on many of these questions, and you can get to that level of specificity until later in negotiations. For example, what do you mean branding with your own logo? Do you know want your logo on the actual mold and imprinted on the product? Do you want their full color stock packaging to incorporate your logo? Or do you simply want a sticker of your logo applied to the product?

  • Reply
    Alex
    November 17, 2015 at 7:47 am

    Hi David,

    Once again thanks for your information.

    If I’m looking for a custom designed product, should I request a sample of the similar product or should I wait until they customized the product and ask for around 10 samples?

    Cheers,
    Alexander Tee

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      November 17, 2015 at 6:55 pm

      Hi Alex,

      It depends how customized you’re getting. If you’re changing the color, sure, one sample of a similar product and then a few of the finished product works. If it’s a completely new product with a custom mould, CAD designs, etc. you’re probably going to have several sample iterations from start to finish. There’s a really good podcast here: http://www.ecommercefuel.com/product-manufacturing-process/

  • Reply
    Vin
    March 10, 2016 at 10:12 am

    Hello David

    Thank you for sharing your insight. I wanted to ask for your advice. When is the right time to negotiate the price for my first commercial bulk order? Right before I buy their sample or right after I received their product sample?. I have found a supplier in China thru Aliexpress who can do private label on the product for a much lower MOQ vs Alibaba. $17 is the listed price on Aliexpress and the sample is $35 excluding shipping. I have not given a go signal yet to buy their sample.

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      March 10, 2016 at 10:59 pm

      Hi Vin,

      I’d definitely wait until after you receive the sample. Once you’ve paid for and received a sample it indicates a lot more seriousness by you and they’ll in turn negotiate more seriously :)

  • Reply
    ind
    March 11, 2016 at 12:58 pm

    Hi, I am actually researching to buy a laser cutting/engraving industrial machinery. I have seen similar products with a huge variant of price range. Most of the product has MOQ of 1 so it is different to the products mentions in this site. But it has price range listed in the Alibaba.com site. So my question is for this kind of product, can you negotiate below the quoted price range?

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      March 11, 2016 at 8:47 pm

      Hi,

      Of course you can, especially seeing it’s a relatively high ticket item. For something like this, a 10% discount might be huge though.

      • Reply
        ind
        March 14, 2016 at 6:07 pm

        Thanks for the reply David. I’ve tried to contact some of the company and gotten some of the response. And I noticed that the company name is not clearly specified although with some effort you could figure out what the company is. So I wonder if it to prevent buyer going directly to the seller bypassing Alibaba. Do you have any idea on this? Is there any advantage for buying through Alibaba site warranty or something like that?

        And I purchase a smaller ticket item, a plot cutter, for my brother in the past in Guangzhou. I didn’t research the product but I was in town, so through several sources I check out a couple of local source. My experience was that some of the similarly priced product has a lot of different features. The plot cutter that I finally bought was capable of handling 30%-50% wider material, come with a stand and look newer & stronger than the next best offer which was similarly priced. So I think there can be a lot of variance in product quality. It seems to me that sometimes pricing depend on how aggressively your seller is doing. And for the product I am currently looking for there seems to be a lot more possible variance of feature. I am not sure of what is the general strategy here. Any tips?

        • Reply
          David Bryant
          March 15, 2016 at 3:34 am

          Hi,

          There’s no advantage/disadvantage to the seller bypassing Alibaba. Alibaba charges a flat annual fee to sellers, not a commission so they don’t care if a buyer contacts a seller outside of Alibaba. Is it a Gold Supplier who has the ambiguous name?

          Like any country, some sellers may price their product more aggressively than others but more often than not, everyone is similarly priced. 20% variance between Suppliers is normal I would say, but 50% seems like a lot. You want to be sure you’re comparing apples to apples though (if two machines have different features, even if the differences are small, it makes it difficult to compare prices).

          • ind
            March 15, 2016 at 10:25 am

            Hi,

            I think it is a Gold Supplier. On the company profile tab the name of the company is not written, just it’s company type and location. I had to ogle the image for the brand to find out the company name.

            It seems that there is actually certain standard for each competitive price point and some seller is trying to pass their product at higher price point. I wanted to inspect the product if I can to try to get the best product at an affordable price point. Next week, I am planning to go to Guangzhou so I thought of looking for the stuff along the way. However most of the product’s company so far is located in Shandong which is pretty far away. I have to check out for stuff at a closer distance from Guangzhou if I can. Yet I am not sure how to do this with Alibaba site. If their headquarter in Shandong, it is difficult to find out if they have a showroom in Guangzhou using Alibaba site. I am not sure if the port can usually be used a guideline as mostly are in Qingdao, Shanghai and Guangzhou; I could probably fly to Shanghai or try the express 6 hours train. Also for now I am not sure if it is necessary to look all the way to Shandong or simply check around Guangzhou.

  • Reply
    Sofia
    April 5, 2016 at 1:12 am

    Hi David,
    Great website you’ve got here, lots of very useful info! I’m a newbie to importing and have just started to find my way around Alibaba. I have a question about the “Business Identity’ on there…how important is it that it gets verified before I contact potential suppliers? Will they take me less serious if my business profile is ‘unclear’? And does the same go for my member profile? (not sure what the difference is actually…?) Should I upload a personal photo and my address details etc to the website or does it not really matter? I’m a little hesitant to put all my personal information out there if I’m not sure who I’ll be dealing with yet… I have a name and logo for my business but it’s not an official company on paper at the moment, can I still use the logo etc in my profile on Alibaba?
    Hope you can help me shed some light!
    thanks and best wishes, Sofia

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      April 5, 2016 at 4:40 am

      You should be fairly selective with what informat ion you put up there. If you readily post your phone number chances are you’ll have Suppliers calling you the next day :) If you’re having difficulty getting responses, then you can start to add some more information.

      Every time someone messages a Supplier it shows the location of the buyer via their IP, so a Supplier can verify if you’re from a ‘good’ country. So in other words, they’ll likely look more at your country location than anything that you post in your profile.

  • Reply
    Sofia
    April 5, 2016 at 4:47 am

    Hi, just an additional question after some more research today :-) : I have established a list of 7 potential suppliers now, of which 5 actually have their own websites. Is there any advantage in approaching them through their own website initially or best to go through ALibaba? Thanks :-)

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      April 23, 2016 at 3:21 am

      Hi,
      There shouldn’t be any advantage to going direct. ALibaba Suppliers pay a flat fee and not a commission, so they’re prices should not be any lower or higher on either.

  • Reply
    Terry
    July 4, 2016 at 4:52 am

    Hi, I am new to private labeling. I found a product which I would like to import from China but I have many questions regarding this and was hoping if someone could help me.

    1. I have contacted many suppliers and a trading company gave me best price rather than a manufacturing company. Is it okay to order from a trading company (with registered capital of RMB 30000 and 1 year gold supplier)?

    2. My supplier wants me to pay 50% of paypal handling fee. Should I accept this?

    3. If I pay the 30% of the order value before manufacturing then when should I pay the remaining?

    4.Should I ask for any certificates or some proof of warranty??

    5. Should there be a contract written for the current order ?

    6. I am planning to start with a small order. How to start the negotiation process for it?

    7. There is very little information about the product in Alibaba. Is that normal?

    Thank you.

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      July 4, 2016 at 5:37 pm

      Hi,

      1) Yes, nothing wrong with a trading company. Some people think you get a higher price from them, but this isn’t always the case.

      2) What is the handling fee? Shipping fee? If so, then you’re lucky they’re only asking you to pay 50% and not 100%

      3) Once they send you a copy of the shipping documents.

      4) Sure, although none of it will really be enforceable.

      5) You don’t necessarily need a formal written contract but you you need a document very clearly listing specifications et al. i.e. type of packaging? How are the items boxed? colors? instruction manuals? Shipping terms? (FOB?)

      6) Try and get a 10-20% discount. Might be tough for a small order though.

      7) It depends. Is it patented?

  • Reply
    Mitch
    July 15, 2016 at 5:51 am

    Hi David,

    This was a really good post. I was wondering about the packaging. If you want your logo stickers on the packaging, how do you go about it? Are they able to produce the stickers and attach them if you supply them with the vector file?

    Thanks

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      July 17, 2016 at 5:08 am

      Hi Mitch,

      Of course – it just comes at a price. Stickers are by far the cheapest and many will do it for free. Full color packaging you’ll almost always pay for unless you order a very large quantity.

  • Reply
    Lindsay
    September 1, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Hi David,
    Thanks for the wealth of information! I recently purchased your ebook too, what a great resource for my startup ecommerce business. One question I have, which I can’t seem to find an answer for, being from Canada, do we need to have both english and french on the packaging? And on the instructions? Will the suppliers add both languages? Thanks!

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      September 2, 2016 at 10:08 pm

      I would expect your Supplier to add no instructions let alone translate them :) They might provide in English if you’re lucky. The retail packaging laws in Canada are complex and I don’t understand them completely – with that being said, from experience, it’s not something Canada customs is aggressive about looking for. I could be wrong but I don’t think they check for it at all – its regulated after import by another agency.

  • Reply
    Rupesh
    January 28, 2017 at 11:52 pm

    Hi David,

    Great Article!!
    I am new into this import business, I found the products, but how to make sure these products are in compliance with USA CPSA, CPC regulation. Lot of seller gave me certifications from EU standard, but no one is providing any certification related to USA regulation.
    Can you help me if there are any specific regulation which needs to be present during custom verification and I should be aware of if product is for kitchen or kids toy category, since most of products contains plastic parts.

    Thanks for your help

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      January 30, 2017 at 6:21 pm

      Hi Rupesh,

      Yes, it’s quite common they have EU certification but not U.S. certification. I believe in the U.S./Canada there’s a lot of onus on the importer and not just the manufacturer. Unfortunately I’m not confident enough on the regulations on certain products like toys to give you any advice.

  • Reply
    Rachel
    February 17, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    I am a new online retail store owner. I have selected a supplier in china. I have been advised that the supplier can drop ship directly to my customer. The supplier will charge me $16 for drop shipping to customer and $2 to process PayPal. Is this a good deal or not. Most of my product orders will be around $100 or more.

    Rachel

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      February 18, 2017 at 5:56 am

      Only you can be the judge of this. Is it still profitable for you? If it is, then it would appear to be a good deal.

  • Reply
    Melanie
    March 13, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Hi there

    This was really informative, Im new to this world and took away some really good stuff. One question – Is it normal practice for them to want to discuses the order over whatsapp? Almost all of the suppliers i have contacted have requested my number to talk on whatsapp? then pay through paypal. I have placed two orders this way and the packages are indeed on there way as i can see them via the tracking but this form of contact seems a little off?

    Thanks Mel

    • Reply
      David Bryant
      March 14, 2017 at 5:16 am

      YES. Every Supplier wants to talk via Whatsapp or WeChat. I hate it – email keeps things much more organized, but that’s just the way they do it.

  • Reply
    Deepti
    September 5, 2017 at 11:09 am

    Hi David, I am from Toronto and new to online selling. I have identified a product and contacted several suppliers from Alibaba. However, I plan to buy a few samples from AliExpress as they have good product-specific reviews. Once I receive the samples, I will connect with the supplier for bulk. Is this the right way to approach.
    Also, AliExpress does not have PayPal option, what would be the safest payment mode?
    Pl. Guide

    • Reply
      Dave Bryant
      September 10, 2017 at 9:08 pm

      You can do it this way but the person on Aliexpress may not be the manufacturer and/or be able to offer a lot of discounts. I’ve never purchased through Aliexpress actually so I can’t confirm what the best payment method is.

  • Reply
    Nick
    October 1, 2017 at 10:44 pm

    Hi Dave,

    My first Amazon order I did not have to deal with customs. Everything was smooth from China to FC. My Alibaba supplier handled everything. Is that called FOB?

    I am worried that there might be future misunderstandings and my product will get stuck somewhere in US or get rejected by Amazon due to customs.

    My second question is related to Amazon Canada. I am based in Vancouver – should I just ship it to me first and then ship it out to the warehouse (I think its in Surrey?)

    Thank you

    • Reply
      Dave Bryant
      October 2, 2017 at 1:24 am

      If it shipped into Amazon directly from China that would be closer to CFR. Assuming it was going to the USA, your order was likely under $800 or your supplier undeclared the value on the invoice. Be careful if your value starts to exceed that $800 “de minimis” threshold and be aware that in Canada that $800 threshold is $20. Yes, if you’re in Vancouver and shipping to Amazon.ca probably easiest to ship to you first although Amazon will very likely have you send the goods to their Ontario warehouses but you can use their cheap partnered carrier discounts.

  • Reply
    Alejandra
    October 6, 2017 at 9:53 am

    Hi Dave,

    I am currently in the process of ordering 300 t-shirts from an alibaba supplier. They have offered a great price and samples. However, when I ask how much for shipping they tell me they cannot quote the shipping charge until they list the cargo. They have offered the PI but with no shipping cost. I am wondering if this is a normal thing or is this a scam? This is my first time purchase through alibaba.
    Thank you.

    • Reply
      Dave Bryant
      October 7, 2017 at 6:09 am

      Hmm, scams are rare but it sounds odd. They should be able to ballpark a shipping charge – chances are there’s some confusion somewhere in the line. If you get the dimensions and the weight you can estimate the shipping charges on your own.

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